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Iowa Division

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The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Emergency Relief, or ER, program can help State and Local agencies fund repairs to Federal-aid eligible roads, bridges, and other infrastructure after a Disaster such as a flood, heavy winds, and other events that cause damage to the transportation system.

The repair work within the right of way of Federal-aid highways is usually eligible to receive ER funds, if the roadway is in an affected county that is included in the Governor’s Declaration or Presidential Declaration.    

FEMA website for Presidential Disaster Declaration

Iowa website for Governor’s Disaster Declaration


The decision to seek financial assistance for a disaster event under the FHWA's ER program rests with Iowa DOT. Local agencies with damage to Federal-aid highways should make their application for ER reimbursement through IowaDOT’s Emergency Coordinator (Brian Pribyl). It is Iowa DOT’s responsibility to seek ER funding for the repair of Federal-aid highways, regardless of which jurisdiction.

The following outlines the ER process

The FHWA Emergency Relief Manual outlines two types of repairs following a disaster: emergency repairs and permanent repairs.

Emergency repairs are made during or right after a disaster to restore essential traffic, to minimize the extent of damage, and to protect the remaining facilities. The standard letting process is not required and we advise the State and Local highway authorities to immediately begin these types of repairs. Properly documented costs with before and after photos are usually eligible for reimbursement. On the other hand, permanent repairs (that go beyond these three types of repairs) require prior FHWA approval. 

Permanent repairs are those repairs undertaken after the occurrence of a disaster to restore the highway to its pre-disaster condition. ER funding is limited to the cost of repair or reconstruction of a comparable facility that meets the current geometric and construction standards required for the types and volume of traffic that the facility will carry over its design life. This eligibility is limited to those portions of the facility that have been damaged.

Damage Assessments: Iowa DOT in coordination with FHWA Iowa Division engineers, undertakes damage surveys and/or detailed site inspections. This may include Local authorities where appropriate. Typically, this involves on-the-ground visits of the damage sites to verify the extent of damage and to determine the cost of repairs eligible for ER funding. Specific sites not visited by FHWA are subject to review and approval of all required documentation.

Implementation of Projects: Iowa DOT generally takes the lead in seeing that projects are advanced in accordance with appropriate Federal and State requirements. The total amount of ER funding provided is based on the Federal share of actual costs incurred by Iowa DOT and Local highway authorities to complete eligible repair activities (Interstate 90% All other highways 80% Emergency repair 100%).

The Final ER eligibility and reimbursement will be based on the documentation submitted showing cost, justification and compliance with Federal requirements.

Key Items for Local Authorities:

Iowa DOT contacts:
Brian Pribyl (Primary):  brian.pribyl@dot.iowa.gov (515) 233-7850
Brad Fleming (Secondary): brad.fleming@dot.iowa.gov (515) 239-1628
Iowa Department of Transportation District Offices: https://iowadot.gov/districts

Identify your Federal-aid highway routes: Create a list of the Federal-aid routes in your county or community. Damage to these routes is potentially eligible for funding under FHWA's ER program.
Federal-aid highways generally include interstates, freeways, arterials, and major collector roads.  Usually rural minor collectors and local roads are not eligible.   

Iowa State DOT Planning Website for Functional Classification/GIS

Federal Requirements: Be familiar with the federal requirements for construction contracts and the roles and responsibilities of State and Local Agencies administering the ER Projects.

FHWA Contract Administration Core Curriculum Manual

Document emergency repair costs:  If you are undertaking emergency repairs to restore essential traffic, minimize damage, or protect remaining facilities, keep good records of the costs incurred. Be sure to take pictures of the damaged area before undertaking any repair work. These will be critical when Iowa DOT or the Local agencies seek reimbursement under the ER program.
Permanent repair work: Remember, permanent repair work requires prior approval by the FHWA division office.

Contact Information

FHWA Iowa Division Emergency Relief Program Coordinator: Andrew.Zimmerman@dot.gov;  515-233-7334

Secondary Contact: Johnnie.Gibson@dot.gov; 515-233-7322
Andrew.Wilson@dot.gov; 515-233-7313


Other Pertinent Contact Information (Links, Names, Email Addresses, etc)

Web Resources: The Emergency Relief process is explained in a series of four videos:

  1. Program Overview and Eligibility
  2. Initial Steps for Requesting ER Funds
  3. Steps for Receiving Reimbursement of ER Expenses
  4. Emergency versus Permanent Repairs

Note:  Each video has a printable “Companion Resource” on its website.

Web links to related Code of Federal Regulations and other links.

FHWA's Emergency Relief Program Web site

FHWA Order 5182.1 - Emergency Relief Program Responsibilities

FHWA's Emergency Relief Manual

Emergency Relief questions and answers related to the FAST Act:

FHWA's Web site covering Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads (ERFO)

FHWA's Contract Administration Core Curriculum providing an overview of Federal contracting requirements

FEMA's policy and guidance covering public assistance

FEMA fact sheet on debris removal on Federal-aid Highways




Page last modified on May 12, 2021
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